Charity chief denies calling for resignation of Marie Stopes International leader Simon Cooke

Daily Mail says Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory service, said Simon Cooke should resign after an abortion scare, but Furedi disputes that version of the story

Simon Cooke
Simon Cooke

The chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service has denied calling for the chief executive of the sexual health charity Marie Stopes International to resign. But Ann Furedi, chief executive of the BPAS, said she would be expected to resign if similar concerns were raised about her charity as those which the Care Quality Commission raised about MSI on Friday.

A story in the Daily Mail this morning claimed that Furedi had called on Simon Cooke of MSI to step down after the CQC raised concerns about patient safety in some MSI abortion clinics.

But Furedi told Third Sector she had not made the comments with direct reference to Cooke. Instead, she said, she had been talking about what her own board would do in a similar situation.

The CQC announced on Friday that it would be halting some abortion procedures in MSI clinics in England after concerns were raised about the provider’s corporate and clinical governance arrangements and patient safety protocols in specific areas.

Patients scheduled to undergo the cancelled procedures have been directed to other organisations, including the BPAS.

Furedi said: "In response to a question on how I thought my board would respond in a similar situation, I said I thought they would take it extremely seriously. A failure of clinical governance in an organisation that is a specialist provider of abortion services is of the utmost seriousness and I would expect to see it being treated as a resignation issue for the chief executive."

But she said she was clearly not in a position to say what changes should be made at MSI because she did not have any other information about the situation than had already been made public by the CQC, and did not have a detailed knowledge of MSI’s structure.

She also said it was difficult to compare the two organisations because the BPAS works solely in the UK, whereas MSI works globally.

"I don’t even know whether Simon would be personally responsible for this issue," Furedi said. "It’s entirely possible that he delegates it to another person or board within the organisation."

When asked her response to the way in which the Mail had reported the story, she said: "It is utterly inappropriate for people to be attempting to exploit what is at the moment a very difficult situation for MSI, NHS England and the women affected."

A full CQC report on the situation at MSI is due to be published in the autumn.

MSI declined to comment on the story.

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